BASKETBALL JOINS THE RESTART PARTY: THE NBA RETURNS TONIGHT FROM THE ORLANDO BUBBLE

By Chace Johnston

The NBA restarts tonight. Here is what you should expect.

Back on October 22, 2019 the NBA season started with a two-game line up with the New Orleans Pelicans in Toronto, Canada to take on the Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers battled it out in a late-night showdown. Since then a lot has changed and a lot has happened.

A lot of basketball happened. The documentary about the Chicago Bulls and the legacy of Michael Jordan called the “The Last Dance.” We lost two key icons of the NBA during this time period in former NBA commissioner David Stern and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant. We had the much-hyped NBA debut of Zion Williamson for the Pelicans on January 22 and Vice Carter became the first player to play in four different decades.

The season was going on like usual until the COVID-19 virus made its way to the United States. On March 11, 2020 the league suspended the season indefinitely when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive with the virus. On the same day the World Health Organization declared the disease was a global pandemic. All sports were brought to a halt, and the world has changed tremendously.

Now after a four-month layoff the NBA season is back but with a lot of precautions and adjustments.

After a lot of consideration from the NBA Board of Governors and NBPA, they decided on a 22-team format with the 16 total teams are that were in playoff positions when the season was paused and six other teams who are six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in both conferences.

After that announcement, the schedule was released at the beginning of July. The first order of business was how do we keep all of these teams and their staffs safe. The idea that the Board of Governors and multiple health officials came up with was to create a bubble where players can come inside and aren’t allowed to leave. If they do they have to go through a two week quarantine period and two negative tests before they can return to the bubble. All NBA games will now be played at the ESPN Wide World Sports Complex, at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. With these teams being in the bubble, the NBA has limited each team to just a total of 17 players per roster: 15 NBA contract players and two being on two-way contracts.

With COVID-19 being a serious problem, there have been some NBA players that have opted out of joining their teams in the NBA “bubble” in Orlando. Players opting out are as follows:

  • Trevor Ariza, Forward, Tail Blazers
  • Avery Bradley, Guard, Lakers
  • Davis Bertans, Forward, Wizards
  • Willie Cauley-Stein, Center, Mavericks
  • Wilson Chandler, Forward, Nets
  • Caleb Swanigan, F, Trail Blazers

The players below are the players that will be missing at least the start of the NBA’s restart due to testing positive for COVID-19:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Nets 
  • DeAndre Jordan, C, Nets 
  • Michael Beasley, F, Nets 
  • Gary Payton II, G
  • Josh Gray, G

Now with these positive tests there have been a few players that have also violated the rules of the NBA bubble and then have been forced into a 10-day quarantine period until the pass two negative COVID-19 check, these players are:

  • Lou Williams, G, Clippers
  • Richaun Holmes, C, Kings
  • Bruno Caboclo, F, Rockets

Lou Williams was given permission to leave the bubble for a family matter involving a funeral. During that trip he went and got an order of food at a strip club, which was not authorized by the NBA, outing him into a 10 day quarantine.

Holmes’ new 10-day quarantine also involved food. He ordered chicken wings from a restaurant that wasn’t approved by the NBA.

Lastly, Caboclo was put into a 10-day quarantine because he left his hotel room during a 48-hour quarantine.

Moving on to the start of the NBA restart tonight, we look at the current standings of each conference and how teams will qualify for the 16-team playoff.

Starting with the Eastern Conference below is the current standings heading into tonight (These teams are in order of their seed right now):

  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Boston Celtics
  • Miami Heat
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Orlando Magic
  • Washington Wizards

With how things are currently set up, the Washington Wizards will be battling for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Western Conference seeding is as follows:

  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • LA Clippers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Utah Jazz
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Houston Rockets
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Phoenix Suns

With this side having 13 total teams, the last five teams will be making a push to take over the 8th seed which currently is the Memphis Grizzlies.

A question that is frequently asked is how will the playoff seeding change? Starting tonight each team will have a total of eight games they will play before the NBA playoffs start on August 17th.

Looking at playoff seeding, seven total teams will make the playoffs without a play-in. If the 9th-place team in either conference finished within four games of the 8th-place team, there will be an 8-9 play-in game. If not, there won’t be.

A few things the NBA announced is that the NBA Draft will now be held on October 17th and free agency will start at 6:00 p.m., October 18th. As of right now the 2020-2021 season will start on December 1st.

With that being said tonight the NBA restart will have two games on tap tonight, the first being the Utah Jazz vs. the New Orleans Pelicans at 6:30 p.m. Following will be the Los Angeles Clippers taking on the Los Angeles Lakers at 9.

NBA Finals Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers over the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

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